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Q. Need to protect Good Samaritans: Discuss the need to protect good samaritans in India.
Aug 25, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

According to official statistics the number of people lost their life due to accidents in the year is about 1,46,000. Inability to get timely medical treatment for victims is one of the important reasons for India’s unacceptably high rate of road accident fatalities. Law Commission report of 2006 estimated that 50% of accident victims would have survived had they got medical attention within an hour.  Hence India needs good samaritans to provide timely treatment to victims, but there are various factors acts as impediments to them.

Issues- 

  • A major impediment to victims in obtaining timely help is the fear among bystanders that they could be embroiled in a police investigation or be subjected to harassment due to the legal procedures involved if they chipped in to provide first-aid, ferry the injured to hospital or even call for medical or police assistance.
  • Similarly other factor that discourages bystanders from coming forward to take victims to a hospital is the fear that they would be made to pay admission costs in a hospital or detained there for long hours.

Current Status legal protection for good samiratans-

  • Currently India does not have laws to protect good samiratans. Last year government had notified guidelines for the protection of those who help accident victims. A Standard Operating Procedure to make these guidelines work was introduced.
  • Recently, the Union Road Transport Ministry has added a significant clause under which a Good Samaritan’s affidavit will have the legal force of a statement. If a statement is required, it should be recorded in a single examination. This is applicable only to those who want to be witnesses, for the guidelines say the police should not compel them to disclose their particulars or to be witnesses.
  • Similarly the Union Health Ministry directed hospitals that they should not detain those who bring accident victims for admission. They should not be required to pay for admission or registration, or asked intrusive questions beyond basic particulars such as names and addresses.

What needs to be done?

  • Though government have outlined guidelines for protecting good samiratans, but there is an urgent need of law to protect good samiratans.
  • Guidelines and simplified procedures are welcome move in this regard, but much more needs to be done to encourage people to get involved in the rescue of accident victims.
  • Only few State governments have adopted the Good Samaritan guidelines. All States must get actively involved in their implementation.
  • A good deal of sensitisation is needed, and it may help if State governments drew up their own set of rules so that they become committed stakeholders in the cause.

Conclusion-

Deaths due to road accidents are alarmingly high in India. We can save at least 50% of those with the help of good samiratans, but issues that posses threat for good Samaritan needs to be addressed. To protect good samiratans there is an urgent need of law by parliament.


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